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Best AWD Hybrids for 2021
Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.
No longer a limited or experimental combination of features, all-wheel drive (AWD) hybrid vehicles are capable of handling year-round road conditions and deliver solid mileage. The tradeoffs are that AWD hybrids have reduced fuel efficiency compared to their front-wheel-drive siblings and they’re more expensive. Our best AWD hybrid picks are a mix of sedans, crossovers and SUVs at a range of price points.
|Best AWD Hybrids|
|Model||Score||MSRP||MPG or MPGe|
|Toyota Highlander AWD Hybrid||4.53||$39,800||35 MPG combined|
|BMW 530e xDrive||4.53||$56,200||65 MPGe|
|Volvo S60 T8||4.40||$47,650||69 MPGe|
|Acura RLX Sport Hybrid AWD||4.33||$61,900||28 MPG combined|
|Ford Escape SE Sport Hybrid||4.30||$29,765||40 MPG combined|
|BMW X5 xDrive 45e||Honorary Mention||$65,400||50 MPGe|
How we chose the best AWD hybrids
To make our list, vehicles must be hybrids and use gasoline (no all-electric vehicles — sorry, Tesla). They had to have a score of at least 4.30 out of 5. They were scored based on expert and consumer reviews from Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds.
Toyota Highlander AWD Hybrid
- 4.53 out of 5
- $39,800 starting MSRP
- 35/35/35 MPG
Yes, there are some spiffy highlights for the 2021 Highlander Hybrid, including an upgraded Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ package that’s quicker and more powerful than its previous version. But the 2020 Highlander, featured here, still benefits from a redesign that went into effect that year, and delivers a lower price. AWD isn’t available on every trim of the popular three-row SUV, but it is available on four of its trims. With a standard 4-cylinder engine, what the hybrid Highlander lacks in power, it makes up for in greater fuel efficiency. Other standard features on the 2020 AWD hybrid include seating for eight, LED fog lights and Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, which provides lane departure alert, emergency braking and road sign assist. Upgrading to the top trim, with an MSRP starting at $48,250, adds a panoramic power moonroof with sunshade, 12.3-inch touch screen and a bird’s eye camera, which allows you to view the outside of the car from a top-down perspective to help with parking.
BMW 530e xDrive
- 4.53 out of 5
- $56,200 starting MSRP
- 65 MPGe
The plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version of this midsize luxury sedan gets 65 MPGe, but still delivers some vim and vigor with its 248 horsepower turbo engine. The price above includes available xDrive, BMW’s branded version of AWD, on the 2020 model. Standard features include what you might expect from a luxury nameplate — navigation, LED adaptive headlights and BMW’s Active Driving Assistant, which includes blind spot detection, lane departure warning, frontal collision warning and speed limit information. BMW has rolled out the 2021 5 Series with an updated grille and more horsepower for the 530e, but it also comes with a higher starting price: $59,500.
Volvo S60 T8
- 4.4 out of 5
- $47,650 starting MSRP
- 69 MPGe
A midsize, luxury sedan from a company famous for its Swedish design, the 2020 Volvo S60 T8 is a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) with AWD on its three trims. Volvo’s active safety technology is standard on all trims, including its City Safety package, which detects pedestrians, cyclists and even, in some cases, large animals. Interior base features include leatherette seats, a panoramic sunroof and a 12.3” digital driver display. The newer model year, the 2021 T8 PHEV, is set to fully charge within 8 hours off a 230-volt outlet and continues the luxurious Scandinavian form with a new 18-inch wheel design and illuminated exterior handles.
Acura RLX Sport Hybrid AWD
- 4.33 out of 5
- $54,900 starting MSRP
- 28/28/29 MPG
This AWD hybrid comes with three electric motors and a 3.5L, V6 engine that gives 377 horsepower and 28 MPG combined. The midsize luxury sedan is a case of substance over style — it has a full set of standard active safety technology and experts describe its AWD as one of the best — but its interior design and infotainment system give away the fact the model’s design hasn’t had any major updates since 2014. In fact, Acura is looking to discontinue the RLX and instead focus attention on the TLX, its performance sedan. That might mean steep discounts on a vehicle with other niceties, such as standard heated and powered leather seating, HD radio and 14 speakers, LED headlights and a powered moonroof.
Ford Escape SE Sport Hybrid
- 4.30 out of 5
- $29,765 starting MSRP
- 40/43/37 MPG
The 2020 Ford Escape is the least expensive AWD hybrid on this list. Compared to the luxury vehicles, its list of features may not be as impressive, but the standard features on this compact SUV include the Ford Co-Pilot 360 package with emergency braking, lane-keeping assist and cross traffic alert. The compact SUV has also been redesigned, including a roomier second row.
A plug-in hybrid (PHEV) model was to be released in early 2020, however, COVID-19 apparently threw off production as the PHEV is not an option on the automaker’s website.
Honorary mention: BMW X5 xDrive 45e
- $65,400 starting MSRP
- 50 MPGe
For 2021, BMW is making a PHEV option for its X5. Its non-hybrid 2020 model scored well, but the 2021 model year currently lacks enough reviews to officially judge. Despite this, we think it’s worth mentioning, as the X5 xDrive 45e is an AWD hybrid crossover SUV that goes from zero to 60 MPH in 5.3 seconds and gets 50 MPGe. It has a turbo-charged, 3.0L six-cylinder engine with 389 horsepower. However, it’s important to note that it only allows seating for five, not seven — other X5 trims allow you to add a third row of seating. You will get standard 19-inch wheels, a HiFi Sound System, navigation, panoramic moonroof, rain-sensing wiper blades and more. A full charge off a 110V outlet takes about 7 hours of charging time.
Ways to finance the best AWD hybrids
Fuel efficiency isn’t the only to save money. The best way to save money on your car loan is to get a preapproved auto loan before going to the dealer. You could fill out a single online form at LendingTree and receive up to five potential auto loan offers from lenders at once, depending on your creditworthiness.